Congratulations to the community of Thienaba for graduating from CREATE!’s sustainable self-development program! Last month, cooperative members celebrated reaching sustainability and self-sufficiency with a grand graduation ceremony. Guests included CREATE! cooperative leaders, local government and religious leaders, community members, staff, and residents from the local area. The celebration took place at the Thienaba garden site, and featured speeches from CREATE! field technicians and cooperative leaders, a tour of the site, and a short play put on by the local youth.

Thienaba Graduation: Guests entering

Mme. Arame (center), president of the Walo cooperative group, was one of many local leaders who attended the event.

To get ready for the event, the CREATE! team planned meticulously to host 250 people from surrounding communities under the blazing sun, in the field adjacent to the Thienaba garden site. The team collaborated with cooperative members to get 40 chickens from Walo, one of our partner communities, and volunteers from Thienaba prepared the food at their homes to bring to the site. Setting up in temperatures over 100o F, they brought in tables and chairs, tents and sound equipment. The CREATE! team also worked with the local youth theater group to have them perform a skit. The youth came up with a brilliant short play about the environmental problems of the local area, and what CREATE! does to respond to these challenges.

Thienaba Graduation: Mere Top speech

Thienaba cooperative president Mme. Mere Top speaks at the event, thanking her community and CREATE! staff for their guidance and support.

In April 2013, CREATE! was chosen by Dining for Women as their monthly featured organization, and received a grant to support the development of Thienaba’s sustainability projects. Over the years since then, Dining for Women has remained incredibly supportive of Thienaba’s progress. Nicki Maxwell, the founding leader of the downtown Eugene, OR chapter of DFW, was in attendance at the event, so it was a great opportunity to see how far the community has come.

From left to right: Ndeye Fatou Sow, Charlotte Diedhiou, CREATE! Executive Director Louise Ruhr, Mariame Diouf, Codou Gadji, Nicki Maxwell, and Ndeye Fatou Thiam

CREATE!’s ultimate goal is for our partner communities to be able to run their sustainability programs independently, just as Fass Koffe, Fass Kane, and Diender have done. Now that Thienaba has graduated, the cooperative members are able to operate their site without financial or technical support from CREATE!. CREATE! field technicians will continue to advise the community weekly and provide assistance on an as-needed basis.

We congratulate the cooperative members of Thienaba on their great accomplishment and are thrilled to be able to support them in a new capacity as a graduated community!